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Knowledge Award Champions

2020 Knowledge Award Quality Improvement Champions

Knowledge award text in an imageThe second RCVS Knowledge Awards focusing on continuous quality improvement (QI) were awarded in 2020. One individual was crowned a ‘Knowledge Champion’ and three veterinary teams crowned ‘Champion Practice’s’.

Seven individuals were highly commended for their QI initiative and this year we introduced a new sector, highly commended ones to watch, aimed at those applications whose QI journeys are in their infancy, but whose implementation has been strong and has laid good foundations for upcoming initiatives. 

2020 Knowledge Award Champions

Image of Lou the Vet NurseLouise Northway VNCertECC NCert(Anaesth) RVN

Read Louise’s case example here

Louise Northway of Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre, known online as ‘Lou the Vet Nurse’ from her successful Facebook page, is a winner for the second year in a row; for her lead in auditing post-operative neutering complications and using evidence-based veterinary medicine to implement updated guidelines to reduce complication rates by half.


Animal Health Trust logoSmall animal theatre team at Animal Health Trust

Read Animal Health Trusts case example here

The Small Animal theatre team at Animal Health Trust received their award for their creation, implementation and continued use of the surgical safety checklist; improving unity in communication; a reduction in serious surgical errors and greater compliance in swab and instrument counts.


Sara HillyerVale Vets

Read the hygiene audit case example here

Read the post-operative complication audit case example here

Vale Vets won for their introduction and continuation of clinical meetings and QI initiatives that help the team to work as one. Their application discussed their work on several audits, but in particular post-operative complications and hand hygiene; using pre-existing guidelines and developing their own checklists. Vale Vets encourage all team members to get involved in QI, allocating time during quiet shifts for data collection, and have promoted a just culture within the practice.



Read the cruciate surgery outcome audit case example here

Read the clinical incident reporting case example here

Read the analgesia process audit case example here

PDSA picked up a Practice Champion award for their national auditing of pain relief guidelines, cruciate surgery outcomes and incident reporting. Their work in this area showcased improvements in adherence to pain relief protocols; reductions in lost to follow-up cases for post-cruciate surgery patients; and the role of audits in providing an evidence base at a practice level for treatment options.

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2020 Knowledge Award Highly Commended runners up

Meghan Conroy of Brook House Vets for her clinical audit on ear cytology, identifying a gap in care and providing training to the whole team. Results were shared with local practices and promoted more responsible medication prescribing.

Sandra Hunt of The Laurels for the introduction of anaesthetic and wound care checklists after significant events. Other QI initiatives included hand hygiene and hypothermia audits. This application included a huge amount of data which showed data collection being performed regularly.

Liron Levy-Hirsch of Vets Now for his introduction of root cause analysis after significant events. These identified required system changes including shift changes, promoting a better work-life balance, updates to guidelines and the introduction of checklists to improve patient safety. 

Kay Lockwood of Riversbrook Vets for the introduction of clinical governance meetings that instigated updates for anaesthetic monitoring, crash protocols, post-operative complication audits and auditing of infection control. 

Sam Thompson of North Downs Specialist Referrals for her post-operative temperature audit, increasing the average patient post-operative temperature from 36.7° to 37°. This audit also identified areas of focus for specific guidelines to help improve temperatures after certain procedures. 

Holly Warrilow of White Cross Vets for her post-operative temperature audit which started out as a process audit, and, after identifying a gap in care and introducing guidelines, identified the need for an outcomes audit. The audit cycle saw a decrease in patients that returned from theatre hypothermic. 

Lizzy Whiting of City Road Vets for her change management by introducing clinical governance meetings to a well-established practice. These meetings provided a place to discuss guidelines and protocols and approach the updating technical skills to improve not only the team member’s confidence but patient care. This approach to evidence and a learning culture initiated training and team confidence to expand their scope of service and provide an increased range of surgical options and geriatric clinics.

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2020 Knowledge Award Highly Commended ones to watch

Millhouse Veterinary Surgery and Hospital for their areas of responsibility system change. By instigating an entire system change within the practice, they placed responsibility into the hands of the team, improving teamwork and promoting changes from the bottom-up. This initiative also increased awareness of QI in each area across the board. 

Newnham Court Equine Clinic for their implementation of a surgical safety checklist. An initial process audit has been completed, which gave initial numbers of compliance and identified that further training was required. A checklist champion was appointed and a further audit is due in 2020.

Read the case example here.

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2019 Knowledge Award Quality Improvement Champions

Knowledge Awards 2019


The first RCVS Knowledge Awards focusing on continuous quality improvement (QI) were awarded in 2019. Three individuals were crowned ‘Knowledge Champions’ and one veterinary team the ‘Champion Practice’. Three practices and one individual were highly commended for their QI initiatives.

2019 Knowledge Award Champions

Louise NorthwayLouise Northway VNCertECC NCert(Anaesth) RVN

Read Louise’s case example here

Louise, Clinical Nurse Lead, won for her dedication to continuously improving care by undertaking clinical audits; setting and reviewing protocols based on evidence; and instigating discussion and adoption of QI by the entire practice team.


Alison ThomasAlison Thomas BVSc CertSAM MRCVS

Read Alison’s case example here

Alison, Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross, won for her project to deliver a consistent approach to diagnosis and treatment throughout the charity by developing guidelines for more than 60 common syndromes and conditions. The guidelines were based on the best available evidence and took into account ethical and quality of life (QOL) considerations. Their introduction coincided with significant cost savings for the charity, placing them on track to treat an additional 2,639 animals.


Angela RaynerAngela Rayner BVM&S MRCVS

Read Angela’s case example here

Angela, Clinical Services Manager at CVS Group plc, was recognised for her role in cementing an annual controlled drugs audit across the group’s practices. In just one year, CVS’s drug discrepancies for ketamine and methadone improved more than ten-fold and six-fold respectively, and improved still further the following year.


Lesley MooreVets Now Macclesfield

Read the case example from Vets Now here

The nursing team at Vets Now Macclesfield won the practice award for their work on improving general anaesthetic monitoring in an emergency setting. The introduction of a quarterly clinical audit and tailored training for nurses elevated the practice’s general anaesthesia and sedation monitoring to a comprehensive level of excellence, incorporating detailed notes and patient observations. As a result, the practice suffered zero patient deaths or significant events related to anaesthesia or sedation.


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2019 Knowledge Award Highly Commended runners up

ChesterGates Veterinary Specialists established a QI initiative which set out to improve patient care, use of resources, productivity and theatre efficiency. The initiative has resulted in more consistent data recording and improved retrieval of data for audit purposes.

Optivet Referrals Ltd developed a system for capturing the adverse events that arise in patients following anaesthesia.

Vets Now Referrals Glasgow was highly commended for its clinical audit which assessed adherence to WHO hand washing guidelines.

Read this team's case example here.

Elisa Best BVSc CertSAS MRCVS created a sealed emergency ‘BOAS box’ to be prepared for a BOAS patient in crisis. Each box contains a tracheostomy tube, an endotracheal tube, a pulse oximeter, a spay hook, a pre-drawn induction agent, post-BOAS treatment guidelines and a drug dosage list.

Read Elisa's case example here.

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